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tv   Talking Movies  BBC News  June 7, 2020 4:30pm-5:01pm BST

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hello this is bbc news. the headlines. thousands of people are taking part in protests in cities in the uk after the police killing of george floyd in the us. anti—racism demonstrators gathered outside the us embassy in central london — some are now protesting outside number 10 too. cheering in bristol protestors have pulled down the statue of the 17th century slavetrader edward colston. huge protests over the death of george floyd have continued in cities across america — all of them peaceful. in washington, thousands gathered in the biggest demonstrations there in 12 days. the number of people worldwide who have died from coronavirus has passed 400,000. no new coronavirus deaths have been reported in scotland in the past 2a hours for the first
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time since lockdown began. but the uk death toll has risen by 77. a member of the scientific group advising the uk government says he wishes the country had gone into lockdown earlier. and in a week's time — places of worship in england will be opened for individual prayer. now on bbc news, tom brook presents all the latest news and reviews from the us cinema scene with reports from hollywood and new york. we are back in about half—an—hour's time. hello from new york. i'm tom brook sitting on a park bench in central park not far from my home.
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welcome to our talking movies documentary special. the other day i was here in central park riding my bike, as i often do, when i began to hear the sounds of protest. on central park westjust across the way from where i'm sitting over there were a group of maybe 200 or 300 demonstrators. i then went to the east side of the park to 5th avenue and there was another large contingent of protesters. heading north to the end of the park i found there were police vehicles with their lights flashing and police officers prepared for some kind of action. it was just one manifestation of the civil unrest that engulfed this country in the wake of the may 25th killing of an african—american man george floyd in minneapolis who was being restrained by a white police officer. today in talking movies we're going to focus on those documentaries which have attempted to look at the issue of police violence when it's targeted against unarmed black individuals.
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one of the most egregious instances of police brutality to be documented on video has to be the 1991 beating by los angeles police officers of rodney king. footage of the event provoked an outcry. several documentaries have covered the incident of the riots the following year when three of the officers involved in the beating were acquitted. one of america's leading film—makers to focus on civil rights struggles stanley nelson is developing a documentary series on the relationship between the police and african—americans. i went to visit him. he told me that after the fact documentary films can provide background on how black people like george floyd come to die. i think documentary films‘ main role is to kind of look back and give context to what's happening. in many ways, the police in this country are an outgrowth of slave catchers, you know, and the relationship between african americans and the police force has never been a good one.
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it's always been, you know, an occupying army in our communities and that's where we are largely today. anybody growing up here, you tangibly know when you are crossing county lines you have to drive a little differently. documentaries focusing on acts of police brutality against black people have utilised different techniques. many are of the talking head variety. but the 2017 film whose streets relied on user—generated content to look at the ferguson, missouri misery uprising that erupted in the wake of the 2014 police killing of michael brown. it's been 52 days and i've spent more time injail than darren wilson. the film whose streets uses citizen generated footage to capture the ferguson protests. there was so much that was documented by people on the scene, even if they weren't professional documentarians. the film does a really good job of providing context to the footage they were able to capture. it's the hype. the newest, latest. let me tell you the story
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of right hand, left hand. sometimes, narrative films can do an effectivejob to bring home the horror of police violence. spike lee's 1989 comedy drama do the right thing depicted the character radio raheem killed in a chokehold by a new york police officer. many times over my film career, when i go to film festivals or whatnot, and i get interviewed by journalists, one of the first questions is always about whatever racial incident just happened in the united states of america. and the united states of america, racism, they do it better than anybody else. but it's not just. .. racism is all over the world. and so this is a global pandemic before corona. the 2017 documentary the blood is at the doorstep looked into the case of dontre hamilton killed by a milwaukee
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police officer. it was made by a white film—maker, raising the question, who is best equipped to tell stories dealing with lethal police violence targeting african—americans? should it be white people or black people, or does it not matter? i think it's always much more valid to have storytellers come from the community that the story's being told by. i think that if i'm telling a story of the black community, i have the ability to dive deep into that story. it's hard for a white film—maker to go deep. this is the culture i come from. i know that culture very well. that only exists for white film—makers. you don't find black film—makers making films about white folks. itjust doesn't happen. but white people tend to think that they are kind of a blank slate and they can make a film about whatever they want, and you know, that's ok, and they don't think about the fact
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that that's a form of cultural racism. there is a sense that hollywood and the film industry in general tends to support white storytellers, even subconsciously. and there is a real desire to see more black storytellers step up and lead the charge to wrestle with what's going on here. so, to a large degree, what's going to be fascinating in the next few months and over the next year is to see who is first to tell these stories and what perspective are they taking and how are they representing that perspective. because so much of what we see in the news is very insular. the george floyd case certainly shows the potency of the captured image. the video of him being restrained by the police officer provoked massive civil unrest, notjust in america, but also in distant foreign capitals continents away. but the image has limitations. even documentary film—makers have to acknowledge. we the jury find the defendant not guilty.
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institutional racism in the us is so entrenched, that the savage beating by police officers of rodney king in 1991 captured so powerfully, failed initially to bring convictions. and astonishing as it may seem, convictions may not come automatically for those eventually found culpable for george floyd's death, despite an image that strongly suggests to many of those who have been protesting that a murder charge was totally warranted. now let's continue with our special programme focusing on documentaries. you might imagine that with millions of people confined to their homes during the pandemic that fantasy would be the preferred form of entertainment. well, that hasn't exactly been the case because documentaries peddling real—life stories have been very, very popular. my colleague emma jones reports. it's not every day that a zookeeper went to prison for murder for hire.
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in a pandemic, facts are king. in this case, tiger king. during a near global lockdown, the documentary series about former zoo operatorjoe exotic, the only kind of exotic most audiences can get near, was watched more than 60 million times. we can't afford to wait for the world to be equal to start feeling seen. meanwhile, becoming, netflix‘s document a film netflix‘s documentary film about michelle 0bama's book tour, outperformed all expectations making it into the top ten most watched films on the streaming platform. was it a huge fan base or a thirst for inspiration in lockdown? we never imagined that when we released this film that the world would be on a shelter in place order. but i do think this has been a time of reflection for a lot of us, of having an opportunity to relate to stories in a way that may have changed a bit. do you think it's a little dangerous
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hanging our guns in a bank? there has always been one voluble exception for the comparatively puny profits documentaries make in cinemas compared to features. some of michael moore's films have made hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office. moore has also gone online. a new film he produced planet of the humans was released on youtube and watched 8 million times before it was withdrawn for copyright reasons. some climate scientists have disagreed with the ideas in the film. documentaries can be powerful objects. a film can be called the truth by one viewer, propaganda by another. since the sheffield documentary festival is taking place this month and some of the content will be available online, what responsibility do you think curators have towards their audiences in terms of what they get to watch? it is not our role to establish truth, not at all, but it is our role to say, well, here are some facts about this, here is a personal position about this,
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here is some knowledge about that. and to actually be able to build a programme, a panorama in the discourse that can give people honestly the difference between what is knowledge, what is an opinion about our reality. take one. a direct relationship between director and audience may not be a bad thing. in a galaxy far, far away from political documentaries, british director debs paterson made the skywalker legacy, a doc about the making of the latest star wars episode, the rise of skywalker. it was due to premiere in cinemas the week much of the world locked down and was released on disney+ instead with twitter as an audience gauge. that was kind of special, actually, in the sort of weird lockdown of it all, to have this experience and feeling we were connecting and thankfully enjoying it. the creation of content doesn't happen in the way that it used to and that feels incredibly exciting.
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——the curation of content doesn't happen in the way you know, you can discover stuff because other people are excited about it. considering the oscar for best documentary feature this year went to american factory, netflix, which competed against the edge of democracy, netflix, the new think film—makers should just flock to deep—pocketed streaming services. hello. thanks forjoining me from macedonia. thank you. but there is also honeyland, a macedonian story about a beekeeper which cost 200,000 euros to make and travelled its way from festivals to the 2020 oscars, some would say the old —fashioned route. we had a screening in salt lake city. every single person from the cinema came to congratulate us and to try the honey. we had just a smalljar and they were waiting in line to try the honey, the whole cinema. 500 people. the watching of a film is just not the same when you are lying at home and pushing buttons and when you actually make it an experience and share it with other people. it can never be the same.
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el cap is the most impressive wall on earth. some documentaries are inherently cinematic. oscar winner free solo, for example, which detailed a climber without ropes conquering a yosemite peak. how much documentaries continue to enjoy cinema releases will depend upon public appetite to go back post pandemic, and that's a climb that's just beginning. right now documentary film—makers around the world are struggling in the midst of the pandemic to get their films made. in india, tariq vasudeva, a film maker himself, has been hearing from an independent director in new delhi about his documentary in the making and the challenges that he's faced in getting it completed during the coronavirus outbreak. documentaries in india have long been identified by many as staid and boring cinema.
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only a few stalwarts have led the way by making films that tackle social, political and human rights issues. many of which have challenged the political establishment. inspired by the guerrilla style of taking a camera to the streets, tushar prakash, a film—maker from new delhi, decided to crowdfund his independent documentary film to pakistan with love. it's about a muslim man from north india who was jailed for 11 and a half years because he fell in love with a girl from pakistan. before he got jailed, he basically promised her that he would come back, they will get married. but she could never tell that girl for 11 and half years he was injail. the film is basically his love letter to her. you explore an issue that grew out of the political dispute between india and pakistan. do you think films such as yours can help bridge the gap between the two countries? there isjust such a lack of information flow between the two countries.
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it is so bizarre because we speak the same language, it is essentially the same culture. perhaps films can show a sense of cultural unification, they can make us realise how similar they are, they can make them realise how similar we are to them. and that can, perhaps, lead to something positive. prakash‘s first film, the karma killings, which he co—directed, was one of the first indian documentaries to be acquired by netflix in 2017. but now prakash and other independent documentary film—makers like him are concerned about their ability to shoot in real locations during the pandemic. travel restrictions have also made it much more difficult to complete films and start new projects, especially when there is little official information available about coronavirus infection rates. i have to go to pakistan to do the final scene of the movie. i have no idea when i can go to pakistan because no information is coming out of pakistan. so i really don't know when i can film the final act of my film. the pandemic has caused a multitude
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of problems for documentary film—makers in india. getting money to support their projects has become a major challenge. the national funding has now stopped all documentart films in the country and, therefore, where do they get the funding from? and what is really scary is that with the current situation the way it is, the risk factor that is being faced by all of us and the pandemic we are in, we really don't know how funders are going to be funding documentaries internationally. tough times call for creative solutions and many documentary film—makers all over the world have begun looking at new ways of shooting their films. a community driven approach seems to be the way forward. i think it should be collaborative in the process. you know, you need to look at remote film—making. so if you are supposed to be doing a film in calcutta
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and you are based in bombay, you need to find another film—maker there who is based in calcutta that you can collaborate with that can be able to shoot that particular process, or that key event for you to put in your film. prakash may not be able to complete his film at the moment, but he says it is the role of the artist to propel the world during a crisis. he believes that films will always have the ability to create everlasting change in our hearts and minds. and now to a new york—based documentary called through the night which is an intimate portrait of the owner of a 24—hour day care centre and two of the mothers who are her clients, women who are essential workers. the kind of people who have toiled during the pandemic. during the height of the coronavirus pandemic new york is joined in a ritual started in europe and now practised by countries around the world. every evening they clapped for essential workers like medical personnel and those in the service industry who kept working
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while everyone else stayed home. come on, mama, time to get up. as the child of a home health aide who worked the overnight shift, film—maker loira limbal understands the sacrifices caregivers make to do theirjobs. in herfilm, through the night, she wanted to tell their stories in a way that fully showed their humanity. i wanted to create a portrait of this universe that i know very intimately, this universe of mothers holding each other down. this is how we survive, we have been doing this under really harsh conditions in this country because, you know, this country is what it is and it does what it does to us. and so i wanted to shine a light on the structural problems that exist in this country and how there is not a safety net. even though the story is based in the us, one of the world's richest countries, it is documenting a reality shared by millions of
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women across the globe. working full—time, sometimes with multiplejobs, and still struggling to make ends meet. if i am not working one job, i am working anotherjob. marisol, one of two mothers featured in the documentary, like women in many countries, works three jobs, while this other woman is a paediatric nurse, who works overnight. my children, ever since they were at the age of two years old, they had to share me with other children. nunu is the owner of a 24—hour day care centre in new york, who has dedicated her life to raising children. without nunu, neither of these women would have anyone to care for their children and they wouldn't be able to work at the jobs that
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